Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Parents Can Stop Injuries from Holiday Fireworks

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Shooting fireworks is an exciting way to celebrate Independence Day, but an accident can quickly turn the holiday into a tragedy for any family.

In the month around the Fourth of July, an average of 200 people go to emergency rooms across the U.S. every day with fireworks-related injuries. At least a quarter of the victims are younger than 15, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which provided these figures.

Louise Davis, a Mississippi State University Extension professor, urged parents and caregivers to consider leaving fireworks to the professionals.

“There are many simple, fun alternatives to fireworks available,” said Davis, who is the director of the Mississippi Child Care Resource and Referral Network, a program of the MSU Extension Service. “A trip to the local dollar store can save parents a possible trip to the emergency room.”

Davis said children can enjoy confetti, glow sticks, glow necklaces, bubble wrap, silly string, and noisemakers like horns and clappers while waiting to watch organized fireworks displays.

“These are fun, cheap, longer lasting alternatives that don’t burn,” Davis said.

Parents can also take precautions and teach children firework safety measures to significantly reduce the number of accidents around the Fourth of July.

“Children under age 3 should never play with fireworks of any kind, and children up to age 16 should be closely supervised by an adult,” Davis said. “Simple fireworks such as sparklers may seem harmless, but they are not developmentally appropriate for young children. Parents don’t realize how hot sparklers get or the injuries small children can suffer from playing with them.”

The Mississippi Forestry Commission said sparklers can get up to 1,200 degrees, hot enough to melt metal. Sparklers are the leading cause of injuries associated with fireworks.

Jill Middleton, field technical assistant with the child-care network, said children should be taught the dangers of fireworks and fireworks debris.

“Trying to relight fireworks, carrying fireworks in a pocket, lighting a dud, and even picking up or throwing away fireworks debris can cause injury,” Middleton said. “A misfire with a dud or throwing a hot piece of metal into the trash may cause burns or fires.”

Douse any lit fireworks and debris with water or soak the items in a bucket of water after use to make certain they are no longer hot or combustible. Keep a bucket of water or water hose nearby whenever fireworks are involved.

“The safest option is to avoid handling fireworks completely,” she said. “Most areas have a local fireworks display that exceeds anything that can be done at home anyway. Families can focus on having fun during the day together, and just relax and enjoy the nighttime fireworks shows put on by trained professionals.”
The Mississippi Child Care Resource and Referral Network receives funding from the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Early Childhood Care and Development, to provide parent education programs and materials for children and families to further the well-being of Mississippi’s children.